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Loving life again after nearly 20 years of chronic pain

How Joel Spoonheim was able to get back on the field and play with his children again

Since Physicians Neck & Back Center opened its doors 27 years ago, more than 150,000 patients have found the help they need. Joel Spoonheim, director of health promotions at HealthPartners, is one of them.

Joel had been in two severe accidents. Both injured his back, and became a source of ongoing and debilitating pain.

“There were too many times I couldn’t play with my kids. Some days I couldn’t even hold them in my arms,” Joel recalls.

The desire to play with his children became Joel’s motivation to try another option to reduce the back pain he had been dealing with for 16 years. One day at work, Joel described the pain to his colleagues. They had dealt with back pain, too. But they had found a solution: Physicians Neck & Back Center (PNBC).

“I asked them what they had tried, and they ran down a list of things from chiropractic to injections, similar to what I had tried,” he says. “They had tried it all, but PNBC had been what worked for them.”

Joel took his co-workers’ advice, and made an appointment at PNBC in Edina. PNBC specializes in non-surgical treatment of chronic back and neck pain. Treatment is designed to help patients increase muscle strength, endurance, mobility and function.

Virtually pain-free after a rigorous program proves successful

Joel visited PNBC twice a week before heading to work. “I just wanted to keep pushing, and frankly I really liked the coaching I received each time I went there,” he says. “Every visit I learned new nuggets of information that I could do on my own to keep improving.”

With time came great progress. Joel was using unique equipment he would have never had access to in a local gym. He was able to work and gain muscle in ways he never knew were possible. And the team at PNBC helped him push through the pain, always challenging him to do more.

After 14 weeks, Joel had made monumental improvements.

“For 16 years I spent most days with some form of pain,” he says. “But since my treatment program at PNBC ended, I’ve been pain-free for the longest stretches ever since my accidents. Most of the time, I’m completely without pain. And occasionally when I do have it, I recover quickly. I now know how to help myself get better.”

Back on the field without fear

Today, Joel is able to play with his kids without fear of getting hurt. “Before going to PNBC, the pain was often so bad that the idea of coaching and chasing after a soccer ball was impossible to consider,” Joel says. “Now, I can be on the field and not have to worry about it.”

After seeing the power PNBC had in his own life, Joel finds himself promoting the program to others struggling with pain. Once he shares his own story and what he gained from the experience, that’s usually all it takes.

“It changed my life. Just go. Don’t delay. Try it because it works and it’s an evidence-based solution to reducing pain,” he says.


Around 80 percent of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. Don’t let neck and back pain, hold you back from doing what you love. Check out pnbconline.com or call 651-735-2225 for more information.

In addition to the Edina site Joel visited, PNBC also has locations in:

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